What to do with a thousand tomatoes

Maybe that’s  a bit of an exaggeration, but eighteen pounds of tomatoes turns out to be quite a lot.  That is how many I picked a week ago Saturday.  My compatriot picked almost as many: seventeen pounds. We came back to the car with our boxes and bags of luscious fruits, full of satisfaction with our work and anticipation of the tomato delights to come.

Addictively sweet and flavorful.  I could not resist popping a few of these in my mouth while picking as many as I could find.  In past years I have purchased these delightful sungold cherry tomatoes often at the farmers’ market.  Now I had a box full to enjoy to my heart’s content (and my stomach’s eventual dismay).

The bulk of the weight came from the Roma tomatoes, Early Girls, and beautiful big beefstocks that almost looked like heirlooms.

As it turns out, one woman cannot consume eighteen pounds of tomatoes very quickly, especially when the very tall man in her life has his own bounty to eat.  Several tomato sandwiches and tomato salads later, I was starting to worry about how to use them before they went bad without making my stomach very angry.

I’m proud to say that I’ve managed to use almost all of them except a few Early Girls and one and a half beefstocks.  The remaining tomatoes are still safe and will be enjoyed soon.

So how did I do it?  Where did all the tomatoes go?

The first step is to display the tomatoes.  I put them in bright colanders of varying sizes and set them on the counter.  The sungolds tempted me continually and seeing them in the blue colander, I had to snatch one or two every now and then like a candy snack.  Then I got creative.

Here are some of the ways I demolished the tomatoes:

Tomato salad 1:

Halved cherry tomatoes, some tomato slices, crumbled feta cheese, torn basil leaves.  Toss together with a bit of freshly ground pepper and olive oil if you like.

Tomato salad 2:

Halved cherry tomatoes (I used both sungolds and regular ones), fresh thyme, one can of tuna packed in olive oil (drained), capers, kalamata olives, salt and freshly ground pepper.  Toss and enjoy.

Tomato sandwich with a twist:

Toast two slices of bread (I suggest a rye or sourdough), spread with real mayonnaise.  Take one or two beefsteak tomatoes. Slice.  Put down a layer of tomatoes on one slice of bread.  Sprinkle with Kosher salt and pepper.  Now, take some thin, broiled eggplant rounds and layer them on. Add fresh basil leaves.  Add another layer or two of tomatoes and salt and pepper.  Put the other piece of bread on top, press slightly for maximum mayo-tomato chemistry, and cut into quarters.

In a pinch tomato sauce:

Throw some olive oil and a couple of chopped garlic cloves in a warm skillet. Roughly chop up tomatoes, enough to cover the pan.  I used beefstock and Early Girls, and a couple of cherry tomatoes. Add to skillet.  Crush with wooden spoon or spatula.  Cook on medium high heat.  Add a couple of thyme sprigs and crushed red pepper flakes.  Add shredded basil leaves.  If desired, add some diced mushrooms. Cook until broken down and reduced to your liking. Season with salt and pepper.

Pseudo-fried

I did this while frying some eggplant (also purchased at Me & Moore Farm).  I simply dredged chunks of large tomato and halves of cherry tomatoes in flour and tossed them into the frying pan towards the end of my batch of eggplant.  Lots of savory crumbs, salt and pepper had gotten into the oil at that point, so the tomatoes took up more flavor.  They turned out pretty well, and made a nice, juicy topping for the fried eggplant as well.

Saved for later

I crushed about half the beefstock tomatoes and froze them in jars.  I decided to save all of the Roma tomatoes for homemade sauces in winter.  I blanched, peeled, trimmed, quartered, de-seeded and drained them.  Then I sealed them up tight in quart-sized Ziploc freezer bags.

I started this post last week. This morning I finished off the remaining Early Girls by making a regular tomato sandwich to go alongside my scrambled eggs.  That leaves me with one last beefstock.  I’ll be sad to see it go, but at least I can look forward to busting out the frozen ones in the dead of dreary winter.

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